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  • Writer's pictureYumi La Blanca

Barcelona in our heart - Sónar, Flamenco, Alerta Roja

Barcelona at home?

Barcelona is too attractive to dislike, even though I had my bag snatched once, and my husband had his camera stolen once.

Since 2008, my husband has been going there to review the famous electronic music festival, Sónar. If I can, I’d take a break in the same week. It’s been our regular summer trip in the past few years, to which we look forward very much. This year, however, Sónar announced its cancellation due to the pandemic.

This social distance to our Barcelona slightly cut short this week, as Sónar got reformed into an online format on Friday 18th and Saturday 19th September. While a little bit of Barcelona came to our home, my mind travelled between our old-normal Sónar and the new-normal situation.

Work for him, holiday for me

Watching the live streaming of Sonár from our home in sunny London, Barcelona seemed rather cloudy. This weather contrast was bizarre, considering the fact that I had a heatstroke during my first visit to the city.

If it was in the usual off-line format, Sónar would host different divisions, such as Day Sónar, Night Sónar, even several ‘off-Sónar’ events: simply, many acts to see. If we were in Barcelona as old normal, after watching and photographing some to review, my husband would return to our hotel around 3-4am next day.

While he’d be working, I’d either stay in the hotel room enjoying Spanish TV shows, or travel around the city. I could also meet up with friends, go to a flamenco tablao such as Los Tarantos, or even visit a Sevillanas club, Los Juanele where I’d end up dancing Sevillanas or Rumbas with friendly local socios.

Unfortunately, as of now, those venues are still unable to host social events freely. On Thursday 17th September, ‘Alerta Roja’, the Spanish version of ‘Red Alert’, flashed to cast a spotlight on the necessity of aides for cultural sectors, for which many artists and entertainment workers across Spain showed their solidarity. Same situation, different countries.

Sónar and Flamenco

While my husband would have almost full access to Sónar, I’d get tickets to only a few acts. In Sónar 2018, there was no way that I’d miss the show ‘Coplas mecánicas’ by Israel Galván and Niño de Elche.

Their staging ignited a magical chemistry of bizarreness of clubbing and duende of flamenco. Israel Galván cleverly merged flamenco and clubbing buzz by using different preps as well as his own footworks, while de Elche also presented artistically quirky, but somewhat intelligent acts.

My favourite scene was when he took his tops off, stood on a diet machine, put the vibrating belt around his big naked waist, and started to sing Siguiriyas about ‘pains’, while the belt was shaking his revealed upper body. His entire presence was hilarious and profound at the same time. For me, it was muy flamenco, but a type of flamenco which you can’t experience in a so-called flamenco show.

Missing Barcelona

The online version of Sónar enabled us to enjoy the event together in the same space, unlike the usual years in which we’d do different activities. There were some flamenco elements too - Even Niño de Elche was back to entertain us yet again. While watching, my husband was wearing a T-shirt with the print saying ‘Flamenco is not a crime’, which he bought from Telegrama in last year’s Sónar.

Appreciating the view of Barcelona through the screen, we were missing the real flavour of the supposedly vibrant city. We hope we can resume our usual Sónar holiday next year. Barcelona is our other home en nuestro corazón.

Sónar - their ‘real’ event will be back in 2021

Los Tarantos - with a hope they can re-open flamenco

About the UK version of ‘Red Alert’:

Telegrama - you can buy ‘Flamenco is not a crime’ T-shirts (note: no commission involved)

To enjoy the view of Barcelona with rumba flamenca:

‘Barcelona Es Poderosa - Peret’


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